There are plenty of benefits to buying a home during the cold winter months. Generally, there are fewer people shopping for homes in the winter, which means you might have less competition when bidding on a house. Additionally, you have a higher chance of closing a deal - according to Zillow.
However, you need to take several key factors into consideration when home shopping during the holiday season or after. Here are three tips that will help you pick the right house and avoid serious problems in the future.
1. Find Issues Beneath the Snow and Ice with a Home Inspection
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A blanket of snow or ice on a home can hide serious problems, which is why it’s vital that you schedule a professional home inspection before you make any solid commitments. You might not be a home expert, so checking the place out with a naked eye won’t work.
A professional home inspector will provide you with the opportunity to address any problems before closing on the house - or steer you away from a bad house entirely. If you’re skeptical, consider that a survey conducted by Porch found:
- Nearly 20 percent of home inspectors found problems with the roof
- 18.7 percent found at least one issue with the electrical system
- 18.4 percent found problems with the windows
- 13.6 percent discovered issues with the plumbing system
- 12.2 percent found issues with the water heater
Whether you use the inspection as a contingency in your contract or as a sign that the home isn’t for you, it’s certainly worth having that information as you make your big decision.
2. Note Signs That Could Indicate Heating/Insulation Problems
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One good thing about home shopping during the winter months is that you can easily determine how well a home is retaining its heat - or how poorly.
For example, if you note long icicles hanging from the edge of a roof, it could be a sign that the roof isn’t properly insulated. Your roof is losing heat, which melts the snow and ice above, causing icicles to form. Similarly, if you feel cold air streaming in through closed windows or cracks in shut doors, you know that you’re looking at a home that needs some work.
Even if the home does seem to have proper installation, take note of its warmth and how updated its heating system is. You don’t want to move in only to find out you need an entirely new HVAC system.
The good news is you don’t have to be an expert when examining a home’s heating system. However, you’ll definitely want to check out a comprehensive furnace guide with information on inspections and replacements.
3. Look for Signs of Household Pests
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Pests problems can be especially bad in the winter. As the weather gets colder, critters like mice, bats, racoons, snakes, and insects can sneak indoors to stay warm. In fact, rodents alone invade an estimated 21 million American homes every winter – according to the National Pest Management Association.
This is why it’s vital that you take a good look at the basement and attic of the home.
Droppings, small holes in the walls, and smells can be surface level indicators of pest problems. However, you need to get a pest control service in the house to look for more discreet signs of infestations.
Pest control can cost hundreds to thousands of dollars – depending on the severity of the infestation. Even if there are no immediate signs of problems, an expert will be able to tell you if the home has any vulnerabilities that could open the door for unwanted pests in the future.
Like we said, winter can be a good time to buy a home. There’s less competition with other buyers and sellers can be more motivated to strike a bargain.
However, don’t let those opportunities steer you away from doing due diligence on your inspections of the house. Everything from the heating and plumbing systems should be thoroughly examined for signs of weakness - or expensive repairs.
As long as you check everything out before signing any contracts, you should be in good shape to purchase a great home during the winter months, even with snow and ice plaguing the market!
Amy McConaghy is Reliance Home Comfort’s Digital Marketing Specialist, managing the editorial, video and visual content creation for all digital platforms. Amy’s writing is focused on bringing home improvement, buying and selling as well as money saving tips to the homeowners and answering questions about all their home comfort needs. You can find Amy on LinkedIn.